The Nation's Best Grilled Cheese?
Famed chef and restaurateur Graham Elliot (who you might recognize as a judge on Master Chef) opened Grahamwich in Chicago’s West Loop as a destination for fresh, inspired and fast meals including sandwiches, truffle oil popcorn and gourmet soft-serve. The grilled cheese in particular rose to glory, soon gracing Food & Wine’s list of top grilled cheeses in America.
This sandwich is as sensational as the reviews make it seem. The bread is grilled to an optimum crispness, is a perfectly even golden brown in color and comes with a powerful buttery flavor for its relatively restrained grease level. Inside is an inventive and seamless medley of Wisconsin cheddar, prosciutto, tomato marmalade and cheese curds, all melted together in a way that seems meticulously engineered to produce the perfect gooeyness (the cheese will inevitable stretch out in long, messy strings in an honestly really satisfying way).
But perhaps the best thing this sandwich has going for it is the presentation: Each meal at Grahamwich comes on a quaint tray complete with a small brownie chunk for palette cleansing, and is eaten either at an intimate 50’s-diner-style counter or a long rustic wooden table shared with others. Not to mention, the entire staff is capped with newsboy hats, for some inexplicable (yet nonetheless charming) reason. The overall effect is that of experiencing a truly gourmet take on all of the classic comfort food favorites in a trendy, quirky and casual setting. The sandwich is more “cool” than “comfort,” but that’s fine by us.
Jeff Mauro's Perfect Grilled Cheese with Ham
The perfect grilled cheese sandwich all starts with, of course, the cheese. Instead of going just for American, use what I like to call the "trinity of cheese": provolone, American and sharp cheddar. I start with mustard, spreading it crust-to-crust (it's a must!), layering the cheese (American in the middle!), ribboning the ham to create height, and spreading the outside of the bread with mayo to create that golden crust.
4 Lessons Learned from an Amazing Grilled Cheese Sandwich
The mention of a grilled cheese sandwich in yesterday’s blog reminded me that during my last year living in Chicago, I had the opportunity to try Graham Elliot Bowles’ take on the American comfort food classic at his take-out shop known as Grahamwich.
Sorry, Mom, but yours simply does not compare. (Mom passed away in 2009, so I’m hoping she’s busy with other things and not reading this particular blog…)
I was not drawn in by Elliot’s combative public persona. Frankly, I’ve always found that kind of boring. But I’d heard good tings about some of the menu items — not all — and one colleague returned one day from lunch raving about the grilled cheese.
The place was a bit of a walk from our office, so one day I came in early, knocked off early, and strolled to Grahamwich for a late lunch / early dinner. Twenty bucks later, I’d had one of the greatest grilled cheese sandwiches ever, a big bag of house-made chips (with plenty left over to take home), and a house-made soda.
Graham wasn’t shy about charging for his food, but once the “newness” of the place wore off… and once more people had grown tired of that aforementioned public persona… business took a nosedive and the place ultimately closed.
- Place a small, nonstick skillet on a stovetop over medium heat.
- In a small bowl, combine butter and parmesan cheese. Divide butter mixture between bread slices and spread and even layer on one side of each slice.
- Place 1 slice of cheddar and one slice of Swiss between two bread slices, with the buttered sides facing out.
- Cook one sandwich in hot skillet for about 2 minutes, until crust is golden.
- Flip sandwich and grill on the second side until crust is golden and cheese is melted.
- Repeat with second sandwich. Slice sandwiches into quarters and serve.
Gourmet grilled cheese
Here are ways to add variety to your sandwich:
Broccoli Cheddar Grilled Cheese: Combine 2 tablespoons of finely chopped, steamed broccoli with 1 teaspoon finely chopped green onion. Divide the mixture between the sandwiches and spread between the cheese slices before grilling.
Italian Grilled Cheese: Divide 2 teaspoons jarred pesto between sandwiches and spread an even layer on the non-buttered side of each slice of bread. Swap in mozzarella slices instead of Swiss cheese. Drain and pat dry two jarred roasted red peppers. Tuck one roasted red pepper and 2 tablespoon chopped fresh baby spinach between cheese slices on each sandwich before grilling.
Apple & Arugula Grilled Cheese: Core and thinly slice one small apple. Tuck half of the apple slices and 2 tablespoons fresh arugula leaves between cheese slices before grilling. Also works great on cinnamon raisin bread.
Mastering the Art of Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods, so you want to nail it every time you make it. Find out how to make the perfect melty and crunchy sandwich with these tips.
Discover Your Favorite Grilled Cheese
There are few things more delightful than a perfectly cooked grilled cheese. We've reimagined the classic by playing with different breads, cheeses and cooking techniques so you can create your ultimate sandwich.
Pick Your Bread
Sliced white may be the traditional go-to, but different breads can give a grilled cheese more complexity, flavor and texture. Try a sturdier sourdough or whole wheat bread, a fluffy potato bread or brioche, or even a sweet bread like challah or cinnamon-raisin for a new experience.
Choose the Cheese
Any melty cheese will do, from American to Zwitser. We like cheeses with strong flavors, like spicy Pepper Jack, creamy Provolone, Havarti and Gouda. Of course, you can't go wrong with the classics like a sharp Cheddar or Swiss. The real question is: to slice or grate? At Food Network Kitchen, we're big fans of sliced cheese, which yields even coverage and optimal meltiness. But shredding isn't a deal-breaker: Just make sure to sprinkle shredded cheese to a uniform thickness and tame any stray pieces sticking out of the sides (unless you like those crispy bits).
Don't Forget a Fat
Like all grilled foods, a slick of fat on the outside of the sandwich assures a crisp, golden finish. Our perfect ratio: 1 tablespoon fat total for each sandwich (spread or brushed on both sides). Butter is a no-fail option, but different spreads can add new dimensions. For a flavor boost, try an oil with character like a smooth olive oil or spicy chili oil. Using mayonnaise instead of butter adds a touch of tanginess and a slightly browner, crispier crust (while keeping the bread fluffy and not too dry).
There are three foolproof options when it comes to making a great grilled cheese. For maximum convenience, the standard skillet delivers: Cook uncovered over medium-low heat, flipping halfway through, until both sides are golden. (Contrary to conventional wisdom, covering the pan produces a soggier, slightly steamed sandwich.) You can make perfectly crunchy sandwiches for a crowd on a baking sheet in a 450 degree F oven: Cook, flipping halfway through, until the cheese is melty, about 10 minutes total. If you want a nice crispy sear with minimal effort, try cooking grilled cheese in a panini press.
Different cooking methods and fats will lend their own special touches to your grilled cheese, but all combinations yield satisfying results.
The chefs in Food Network Kitchen cooked up dozens of grilled cheese sandwiches in search of the ideal grilling methods and spreads. Along the way we rediscovered a few enticing combinations. Here are our favorites (from top to bottom):
Lay six slices of the bread on a cutting board and brush each slice generously with the butter.
Turn the slices over and spread each one with 1½ tablespoons of the chutney.
Place 1/2 cup of the cheddar evenly on each slice and place the remaining six slices of bread on top of each sandwich. Brush the tops generously with melted butter.
Heat a panini press (see note) and grill the sandwiches according to the directions for the machine, until the bread is nicely browned on both sides and the cheddar is starting to melt. Place the sandwiches on a cutting board and cut each one in half diagonally. Serve hot.
It’s National Grilled Cheese Day! 12 ultimate grilled cheese recipes
It’s National Grilled Cheese Day. This sandwich, unlike the culinary subjects of other food-related national holidays, deserves an entire day devoted to its beauty.
Apologies if we just offended any National Grape Popsicle Day (May 27) observers, but something about the words “grilled cheese sandwich” get people excited. I don’t just mean your ears perk up and you start to salivate. I mean really excited -- take off your shirt, swing it around your head, jump on the nearest car and howl like a werewolf excited.
Law enforcement should prepare for the worst. Maybe get the riot gear ready. The Huffington Post recently posted a story about someone being stabbed over a place in line at a Chipotle in D.C. No clue why this has not happened yet outside of the Foundry Restaurant over Eric Greenspan’s short rib grilled cheese sandwich.
There are plenty of places around L.A. and beyond that make a great grilled cheese. No need to get violent, but sometimes, you can’t beat the sandwiches that come out of your own kitchen. And with something as simple as grilled cheese, you can be as adventurous as you want.
If you’d like nothing more than to stay in and make your own ultimate grilled cheese sandwich to celebrate the most important of food holidays, we’re here to make it happen. Here are 12 recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches from the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen.
1. America's Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe
Start your National Grilled Cheese Month celebration with the most classic grilled cheese recipe out there. Check out this recipe video to see how to turn bread, KRAFT Singles and butter or margarine into a simple grilled cheese sandwich.
- 4 cooked andouille sausages, sliced lengthwise in thirds
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 10 ounces extra-sharp orange cheddar, 6 shredded, 4 sliced
- 8 slices large of sourdough bread
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) Monterey Jack, shredded
- 12 cornichons, halved, plus more for serving
In a large nonstick skillet, cook the sliced sausages over moderate heat, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a plate and wipe out the pan.
In a bowl, stir the butter with the shredded cheddar cheese just until combined. Spread the cheddar-butter on one side of each slice of bread arrange them buttered side down on a work surface. Spread the mustard on the bread and sprinkle the Monterey Jack over the mustard. Top 4 slices with the sausages, halved cornichons and the sliced cheddar. Close the sandwiches, pressing lightly and tucking in any stray cheese.
Place the sandwiches in the skillet, cover and cook over moderately low heat until golden on the bottom, 3 minutes. Press with a spatula to flatten slightly, then flip the sandwiches, cover and cook until browned on the bottom, 3 minutes longer lower the heat if the bread is browned before the cheese melts completely. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and let rest for 2 minutes, then cut them in half and serve with cornichons.
Martha Stewart uses this secret ingredient for the best grilled cheese ever
A grilled cheese is one of life's simplest pleasures — bread and cheese, cooked until gooey on the inside and crispy on the outside. Boom. Done.
But if you give it just the slightest bit of TLC — and use one extra surprising ingredient — it can be a decadent delicacy, according to domestic goddess Martha Stewart.
In a Facebook live video from 2017, Stewart cooks up the classic comfort food pairing: grilled cheese sandwiches and creamy tomato soup.
Stewart shows a member of her team, Kevin Sharkey, who has incredulously never made a grilled cheese sandwich in his life — even though he eats them "two or three times a week" — how to make the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. Kevin selects his ingredients — Gouda cheese, bacon, tomatoes and pickles on white bread — as Stewart heats up a cast-iron pan on low heat.
Now, for the bread: "These are lovely bakery breads, which we slice," said Stewart, who prefers fresh bakery or homemade loafs. "I really never open a package of bread in my house." Be it whole wheat, brioche or country white, Stewart can confirm that they’re "all good for a grilled cheese sandwich.”
Between the bread, Stewart stacks tomatoes (sans skin), three slices of cheese, sweet-hot pickles, Dijon mustard and bacon.
And here's the big twist: She puts mayo — not butter! — on the outside of the bread before she sends it to the pan to sear.
Why? "Supposedly fewer calories and very tasty and the bread doesn't burn," she advises. Stewart does, however, add some butter on the inside of the sandwich later on.
You can find her official recipe here.
Of course, in the comments section of her video, a big mayo vs. butter argument took place, so we turned to our TODAY anchors Al Roker and Dylan Dreyer to make the call.
"I like butter. I'm traditional though," said Dylan. Al says liked 'em both. He said that he usually uses a little bit of mayo and butter — and he always adds bacon.
Left with no final verdict, we're going to try Stewart's mayo smear-and-sear technique for ourselves — and hopefully our lives will be changed forever.